There are so many great ways to spend your free time that don’t involve putting more cash into the hands of corporate event bigwigs. If it feels like you’re always seeing the same old faces in the same old cultural places…. you need to get yourself to one of these independent events. These festivals are all about encouraging you to hear new stories, meeting new people and supporting exciting, independent artists.
Open The Door
In May 2017, Glasgow Women’s Library hosted the first Open the Door festival, a day-long event celebrating the achievements of women writers; with authors including Val McDermid, Leila Aboulela and Mary Paulson Ellis. From curiosity to world-building and film noir to the battle to get published, Open the Door 2017 emphasised the need to provide a platform for discussions around women writers and readers in Scotland. For 2018 they wanted to invite the world to Open the Door, so they hosted the festival online. They’ve gathered content from contemporary writers and readers and designed a programme of discussion points and questions for you to ponder, wherever you are.
Food For Real
[Full disclaimer: I learned about A LOT of the featured items on these lists at this event] Squash Liverpool is an arts and health initiative in Liverpool that promotes creative health education through workshops, courses, events and training. Every year they host Food For Real: a festival, exploring the environmental, political, health and cultural impacts of the foods we grow, eat, waste and share; and the communities and creativity surrounding food. You can attend workshops, socials, talks and film screenings that not only highlight these issues, but also provide real world alternatives.
Bare Lit Festival
Bare Lit is a festival of stories, bringing together poets, journalists, playwrights and novelists. It’s now an annual weekend-long festival of readings and discussions, performances and debates, industry insights, networking and workshops. The festival is an initiative responding to the lack of inclusion of people of colour in the literature industries. Their research has shown that BAME audiences often feel excluded by the expense of these events… In 2015, the UK’s three largest literary festivals featured over 2000 authors. Of those 2000+ authors, only 4% were from Black Caribbean, Black African, South Asian or East Asian backgrounds, based on a report published by SPREAD THE WORD.
DIY Cultures is an annual day festival exploring intersections of art and activism, running since 2013. The programme consists of a zine fair, exhibitions, workshops, contemporary craft, panel discussions, comic illustration, video art and digital animation exploring DIY practice. The event has established itself as a leading national forum for artists-run initiatives and alternative publishing. The event distinguishes itself by by its commitment to Black and people of colour empowerment and centralising marginalised histories and subcultures such as decolonalising initiatives, diaspora stories, prisoner solidarity, radical mental health and Muslim communities under the War on terror. They took a break for 2018, but check back for news on the 2019 edition….
The Bechdel Test Fest
‘The Bechdel Test’ was inspired by cartoonist Alison Bechdel‘s 1985 tongue-in-cheek comic strip ‘The Rule’ which became a basic measure to see if women are fairly represented in a film. As author Alison Bechdel herself puts it ‘it’s a bit of fun’, giving us something to think and do something about. The Bechdel Test Fest celebrates and screens films that succeed in representing women in a positive and progressive light. This festival isn’t just-for-women! They love men too; particularly the men who come to their events, get involved in Q&A’s and make films that portray a genuine, fair and accurate representation of their opposite sex.
[more to come, please get in touch if you know of a project you’d like to see featured on this list]
*when it works smallprint. These lists will be regularly updated. If I find a project that I think has a really nice idea behind it, I’ll share it. If I later find out something really icky out about said project, I’ll take it down if I think it’s not worth sharing anymore.